Misplaced priorities – decisive action on a Supreme Court nominee and a hearing on a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act, not on helping the American people
From the day Amy Coney Barrett was announced as Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in a super-spreader gathering at the White House to the Senate vote confirming her nomination 30 days later, there were over 150,000 new COVID-19 diagnoses in the United States, over 20,000 additional COVID-19 deaths, more than 23 million people continuing to claim some form of unemployment assistance, and mounting public fear that the administration gave up entirely in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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After squandering weeks — and then months — of valuable time to bring the pandemic under control and to pass meaningful relief for the people who need it most, President Trump’s chief of staff admitted this week that the administration was “not going to control the pandemic.” And instead of helping Americans deal with the devastating impacts COVID-19 has had on the economy, Trump’s Senate allies prioritized politics over aid for workers and small businesses, putting American lives in jeopardy.
While the Republican-controlled Senate was able to push a Supreme Court nomination through in just one month, it has been 87 days since enhanced unemployment benefits for workers expired. Even states’ coffers for the small, but still helpful, $300 weekly additional benefit have been drying up.
Since Barrett’s nomination, the House passed a revised relief package that, even in the wake of less-than-encouraging progress on relief package talks elsewhere, has yet to be picked up by the Senate. All this while unpaid bills of the recently unemployed have been racking up and could potentially foretell a nationwide housing crisis, while jobs — even temporary ones — continue to be cut, and while families are struggling to figure out where their next meal will come from.
Small Business Assistance
In the past several weeks, the Treasury Department began forgiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and, following banking industry calls, announced simpler paperwork for the more than 3.5 millions loans under $50,000, which “ […] cuts the application’s size down from five pages to two, and removes most of the questions aimed at ensuring that the loans were used for the program’s intended purposes […]”
While the long-delayed start to the SBA’s loan forgiveness process has been much-awaited by small business owners, there is still a lot of crucial information about the process that the agency has failed to make public, including how the agency is determining eligibility for loan forgiveness, which loans it has forgiven already — and how much of each one — and how long businesses should expect to wait to learn whether the SBA has approved their loans for forgiveness.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration began prioritizing forgiving loans for the companies and corporations bailed out earlier this year, as small businesses across the country have been clamoring for help.
Meanwhile, people of color continue to be left behind in the Trump administration’s inequitable allocation of relief funds. According to a new report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the Treasury Department encouraged banks to pursue policies in the PPP that effectively shut out businesses owned by women and minorities from accessing the assistance they needed to keep operations afloat and employees on payroll. Now, a recent poll shows that only 40% of Black entrepreneurs believe that they can keep their enterprises afloat for more than six months without new aid.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act in just a few weeks. Amy Coney Barrett, whose criticisms of the Affordable Care Act were on full display throughout the week of confirmation hearings, will be joining the court just in time to hear the case, after 12 million Americans have already lost their health insurance during the pandemic.
And Barrett's voting patterns from her time on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals suggest bleak prospects for workers, immigrants, consumers, and parties alleging discrimination or harm at the hands of law enforcement whose cases may come before the Supreme Court with Barrett on the bench.